Children who are privately fostered are protected by law (The Children Act 1989 and Private Arrangements for Fostering Regulations 1991). Private fostering is when a child's parent or guardian arranges for them to be cared for and live with someone else, who is not a close relative.
This applies where:
- The child is under 16, or if disabled is under 18
- The arrangement will be for 28 days or more or
- The arrangement is for less than 28 days but is one of a series of days that all together add up to 28 days
- The person who will look after them is not a close relative of the child (for example is not a brother, aunt or grandparent)
As Private Fostering is a private arrangement it can be hidden from agencies who have a responsibility to safeguard the welfare of children. Privately Fostered children can be vulnerable as they may not see their families very often. It is therefore important that their needs are assessed and their situation monitored to safeguard their well being.
What action should be taken if you know of a Private Fostering Arrangement?
Children's Services have a responsibility to work with parents and carers to make sure the arrangements made are suitable for the child, so by notifying Children’s Social Care (CSC) you will help keep the child safe.
A parent, carer or anyone else who has been involved in making the arrangements should tell CSC if there are plans for a child to be privately fostered. You must inform children’s social care no later than 6 weeks before a child is to go and live with a private foster carer, or as soon as possible if it is an existing arrangement. Where a child is placed in an emergency you should inform children's social care within 48 hours.
It is an offence not to notify children's social care of a private fostering arrangement.
How to inform children's social care
To speak to someone about private fostering or notify of a private fostering arrangement, please contact Children’s Social Care on:
Lancashire: 0300 123 6701
Cumbria: 0333 240 1727